Barbados is on the brink of rolling out a medicinal cannabis industry after Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave it the green light.

Mottley, who secured a landslide victory in May’s general election, said Barbados can no longer afford to miss out on the economic benefits this industry brings. But rather than focus on exports, she said she hopes Barbados will become a cannabis tourism hotspot.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the First Caribbean Barbados Client Economic Forum over the weekend. “Why would we seek to export when we can package and extract maximum value by having clinics as well as recuperative villages for people who want to deal with a certain aspect of pain management?” she said.

Mottley added that Barbados is already a popular tourism destination and that these recuperative villages would make it even more attractive. She believes it would be counterproductive to export the country’s cannabis to Canada, as it needs to rival those industry leaders if it is to attract new investment.

Barbados is now expected to have a framework for a medicinal marijuana industry in place within a week after Mottley said her government has already made up its mind on the issue. It is currently refining the framework and it will be in place before Christmas.

However, the new laws will only cover medicinal cannabis and a referendum will be needed to decide whether recreational cannabis use should be permitted in Barbados. Mottley did not give a date for the referendum, but she indicated that it will happen in the not-too-distant future.

Jamaica has already legalized medicinal cannabis and begun to export to Canada, while Saint Vincent and the Grenadines aims to follow a similar path. Support is soaring for decriminalization of cannabis across the Caribbean. Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, head of the influential CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana, recently told a rally in Trinidad that 61% of people polled in Grenada and 62% of Antiguans want to see cannabis decriminalized, while “Barbados was also in the 60s”.

Antigua and Barbuda is set to legalize the cultivation and supply of cannabis for religious and medical purposes after lobbying from Rastafarian groups, and cannabis is enjoying a groundswell of support across the region, so we are likely to see more countries relaxing their laws and seeking to commercialize it soon.